Nasal congestion caused by the common cold, hay fever, and sinus infections can often be relieved with Afrin. This non-prescription medication, however, should not be used for more than three days in a row, as it may cause the congestion to get worse. It is approved for use in adults and children as young as six years old. Possible off-label Afrin uses include treating ear congestion and nosebleeds.
What Is Afrin Used For?Afrin® (oxymetazoline nasal spray) is a decongestant nasal spray that is available without a prescription. While many people find Afrin to be quite effective, the medication should be used for no more than three days at a time, or the congestion may actually get worse.
Unlike some other medications, decongestants such as Afrin can help with nasal symptoms due to a wide variety of causes. Afrin can help relieve nasal congestion due to:
- The common cold
- Hay fever or other upper respiratory allergies
- Sinus infections or inflammation (sinusitis).
As previously mentioned, it is important to limit the use of Afrin to no more than three days in a row. The nasal passages become accustomed to the effects of the drug, and you may find that you must continue to use Afrin just to keep the congestion away, even though the original problem (such as a cold) has long resolved (see Afrin Addiction for more information).
How Does This Medication Work?The active ingredient in Afrin is part of a group of drugs called decongestants. Specifically, it works by stimulating certain receptors known as alpha-adrenergic receptors. In the lining of the nasal passages, this action causes the blood vessels to constrict, allowing less fluid to leave the blood vessels and decreasing inflammation. This helps to relieve nasal congestion.